Dawsonites are saying farewell to winter and welcoming spring with the Thaw Di Gras Carnival from March 18 to 20.
Ricky Mawunganidze, the executive director of the Klondike Visitors Association which organizes Thaw Di Gras, said the weekend full of activities serves as a way for the community to welcome the warmer months and an opportunity for residents to reconnect after a long winter.
Reconnecting will take on more meaning this year as most of the territory’s public health mandates around COVID-19 ended March 18.
“We know there’s a lot of excitement,” Mawunganidze said, emphasizing though that the lifting of restrictions “does not signal COVID is over.”
The KVA will be strongly encouraging residents to continue wearing masks and take precautions in more crowded spaces. Masks will be required for anyone playing table games inside the Diamond Tooth Gerties casino (operated by the KVA) over the Thaw Di Gras weekend.
“We have anxious optimism,” Mawunganidze said, adding that it was two years ago, also the same week Thaw Di Gras was scheduled to happen, that the reality of COVID-19 hit the territory and many events — including Thaw Di Gras — were cancelled.
In 2021, the carnival returned with events adapted to the pandemic. The popular lip sync contest, for example, was altered with contestants submitting videos of their routine that were then shown on the big screen at Diamond Tooth Gerties.
This year’s lip sync event will be held at Diamond Tooth Gerties March 18 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show are $10.
The carnival schedule features many other Thaw Di Gras favourites — the road hockey tournament, snow sculptures and Mawunganidze’s personal favourite, the egg toss.
Mawunganidze admits his bias for the egg toss may have something to do with being a former winner “of the marquee event” in 2018. He’s hoping this might be the year he regains the title and has been coming up with strategies to make it happen.
Another “must -attend” event, Mawunganidze said, is the chili cook-off on March 20. The annual event sees locals vie for the title of having the best chilli in town.
With the rule that chili must be cooked on the day of the event; Mawunganidze said many competitors are up as early as 5 a.m. getting ingredients ready. Along the more formal judging, Mawunganidze said there’s also a chance for the those attending to vote on their favourite chili dish in the competition.
A schedule of Thaw Di Gras events is available on the Klondike Visitors Association Facebook page.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org